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Massachusetts Resources

Meredith G. Warshaw, M.S.S., M.A.
Special Needs Educational Advisor
Contributing Editor, 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

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The following resources may be helpful to people who live in Massachusetts:


Please note: Being listed here is not per se an endorsement of any particular site or email list. I have included annotations for those sites or lists that I am familiar with and strongly recommend.

Upcoming Speaking engagements

August 12-14, 2005 Learning in Our Own Way, Woburn MA

Special Education Resources

The Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) provides useful parent workshops and has a lot of useful information at their website http://www.fcsn.org/
In addition, they have a great parent's guide to special education, written by the Federation in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE).  You can download it in a variety of formats (PDF, MS Word, plain text) or read it online at http://www.fcsn.org/parentguide/pgintro.html
They also have a link to Mass. Family Ties' comprehensive Mass. Resource Directory available in PDF format at http://www.massfamilyties.org/directory.htm

DOE has several parents' special ed information brochures at http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/parents.html

The Massachusetts Association of Special Education Parent Advisory Councils (MASSPAC) has a website with information both for parents and PACs at http://www.masspac.org/

The Concord PAC has a very helpful website with information on assessments, schools, laws, and more.  It also has recommendations of professionals whom PAC members have found helpful.  Wrightslaw named it the best PAC site in the country!  http://www.concordspedpac.org/ 

SPAN:  The Special Needs Advocacy Network - SPAN is an association of advocates and others concerned about the special needs of children and young adults with disabilities.  http://www.spanmass.org

The Learning Disabilities Association of Massachusetts (LDAM) has a site at http://ldam.org/ 

Parents for Residential Reform is a grass-roots parents support organization for parents of children with special needs served in residential settings.  They also post the results of the Private Special Education School Program Reviews done by the Mass. Department of Education (DOE) - http://www.pfrr.org 

The Massachusetts Disability Resource Exchange was established for the purpose of providing free
resources and a communication vehicle to the Massachusetts disabled community and their caregivers.

The Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy website has a Yellow Pages section.  The Massachusetts page is http://www.fetaweb.com/help/ma.htm

The National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities has a list of Massachusetts resources (state agencies, disability organizations, parent organizations, etc.) at

Massachusetts Family Voices is the local branch of Family Voices, a national organization of parents and professionals who are committed to improving systems of care for children with special health care needs.

The Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools

Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee

The following sites have lists of Massachusetts advocates:
http://www.fcsn.org (will make referrals, list is not online)
and the following have national lists:

Massachusetts Special Education Regulations/Policies

The Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) has special education website that includes sections on the IEP process (forms and notice), complaints, policy, parent information, and more
Information for parents, including a brochure outlining parents' rights, can be found at

Massachusetts SPED regulations requires that testing be done when requested by parent or guardian.  This is spelled out in Mass. Department of Education (DOE) "Administrative Advisory SPED 2002-2: Requirement to Review Refusals to Evaluate for Special Education Eligibility"

The time frames for responding to various requests can be found at

"Administrative Advisory SPED 2002-1: Guidance on the Change in the Special Education Standard" is a Mass. DOE advisory on the switch from the "maximum feasible benefit" standard to the federal standard of "free appropriate public education" ("FAPE")

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs) - http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/advisories/04_1.html

For a complete listing of Mass. Special Ed. regulations, see http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/603cmr28/ 

"Requirements for the Participation of Students with Disabilities in MCAS (Spring 2002 Update)" is a Mass. DOE memorandum - http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/2002/news/107spedreq.html

"Letter to New Bedford Public Schools - Timelines for Issuing IEPs [603 CMR 28.05(7)]" from Mass. DOE - http://www.doe.mass.edu/pqa/02news/0725let.html

Specific Special Needs/Support Groups

Assistive Technology - the Concord PAC has links to a variety of Massachusetts organizations that provide help and information on assistive technology

Boston/New England Area Apraxia support group for families of children with oral or verbal apraxia posts meeting notices via the Yahoo email group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NE_Apraxia/

The Asperger's Association of New England has a website listing lecture series, support groups, and much more at http://aane.autistics.org/

The Attention Deficit Information Network (AD-IN) has a website with information, including local chapters, at http://www.addinfonetwork.com/

CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) has a website with a chapter locator at http://www.chadd.org/

Easter Seals' mission is to help children and adults with disabilities expand their independence http://ma.easter-seals.org/

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) Child & Adolescent Network has a list of local contacts at http://www.nami.org/youth/local.html

NLDSupport, formerly known as TAWK, is a New England-area support group for for families of children with NLD - http://www.nldsupport.org

The Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation is a international non-profit organization. Their website has information and a local support group locator - http://www.ocfoundation.org/

Parent/Professional Advocacy League - an organization for families of children and adolescents with mental health needs - http://www.ppal.net/

The Tourette Syndrome Association has a list of local chapters at

The Trichotillomania Learning Center, Inc. has a list of Massachusetts support groups at


The Massachusetts Home Learning Association (MHLA) is a statewide homeschool organization providing information, advocacy, and support for home educators, including links to local homeschooling groups.  MHLA represents no specific religion, political party or educational philosophy but acts as an information clearinghouse and advocacy organization. 
MHLA has an email list

Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts (AHEM) is another statewide organization for home educators.

The Mystic River Learning Center in Watertown offers classes and also full-day programs for homeschoolers.

The Homeschool Social Register also has lots of useful links, including for Massachusetts

Religious Education for Children with Special Needs

Combined Jewish Philanthropies has a list of programs for children with special needs at

Massachusetts Email Lists

The Mass. Disability Exchange Email List is an open discussion list for disabled individuals and their caregivers - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MaDisabilityExchange/

The Massachusetts Association of Special Education Parent Advisory Councils (MASSPAC)is a professional network for parent advisory councils (PACs) and parents interested in educational issues in Massachusetts. MASSPAC provides training, education, organizational assistance, and timely notification of activities and events impacting education.  They have an email list at

SpedandMCAS is a new Massachusetts listserve specifically for the discussion of issues related to MCAS and special education. Possible topics of discussion will include but not be limited to the appeals process, test-taking accommodations, the certificate of achievement proposal and MCAS tutoring. We will also welcome discussion of the larger philosophical question of whether there is a fundamental conflict between standardized high-stakes testing and individualized education.  Please contact Lisa Guisbond, guisbond@world.std.com if you have any questions about the list.  To subscribe, send mail to SpedandMCAS-subscribe@egroups.com.

Other Resources

The Massachusetts Association for Gifted Education (MAGE) has a website at

Canines for Disabled Kids provides service dogs for children with autism, hearing impairments, and physical disabilities.

The Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council offers grants to individuals with disabilities,
and families of children with disabilities to attend conferences, trainings, and other events.  The grants are called Consumer Empowerment Funds Program.

MassPAC has a list of member PACs with resource libraries at

Recreational Programs for Children with Special Needs

To see lists of summer camps, visit
http://concordspedpac.org/summercamp.htm  or

The Academy of Physical and Social Development, Ken Barringer, Director,
425R Watertown Street, Newton, MA  02458-1113, 617-969-2200,

AccesSport America, http://www.windsurf.org/, 119 High Street, Acton, MA
01720, 978-264-0985, info@AccesSportAmerica.org

Arlington Recreation, Donna Sullivan, 422 Summer Street, Arlington, MA
02474, 781-316-3880.

Belmont S.P.O.R.T.,  Sue Weiner, Director, c/o Belmont Recreation
Department, P.O. Box 56, 221 Concord Avenue (Rear of Belmont High
School), Belmont, MA  02478, open M - F  8 a.m.- 4 p.m., 617-484-5134.

Boston Institute for Arts Therapy, Dr. Phillip Speiser, Director, 90
Cushing Avenue, Dorchester, MA  02125, 617-288-5858, pspeiser@biat.org,

Boy Scouts - there is a pack in Weston for children with special needs. Those interested in Pack 222 may contact the Knox Trail Council at 508-872-6551

Challenger Skating and Softball in Woburn, Brenda Shea, 781-933-0939.

Kartwheels in Motion, Inc. at the Boston Sports Club in Waltham, Jeannie
Watson, Director, 781-893-6516

Minuteman ARC, Susan Mayer, Family Services Director, Minuteman ARC,
1269 Main Street, Concord, MA  01742, 978-371-1543,

Oak Square YMCA, Tom LaPorte, Representative, 615 Washington Street,
Brighton, MA  02135, 617-782-3535, www.ymcaboston.org.

Outdoor Explorations, an inclusive disability organization that promotes personal growth through outdoor adventure offers outdoor trips from May-October and January-February for kids and adults aged 8+.
98 Winchester Street, Medford, MA  02155.  For information, contact Wendy Manus at info@outdoorexp.org, 781-395-4999, TTY:781-395-4184.

Town of Lexington Recreation Department, 1625 Massachusetts Avenue,
Lexington, MA  02420, 781-862-0500, X262

Summer Camps

The Concord PAC website (an excellent resource) has a section on summer camps at
They also have information on ESY (extended school year) at

Easter Seals camp is for Massachusetts residents with physical disabilities, ages 7-30.  Easter Seals is now also offering a summer computer camp for for students ages 14-22 with special needs and for whom standard computer access is challenging. For information, call 1-800-244-2756, x640 (Boston) or x372 (Worcester), or visit http://ma.easter-seals.org/

Other Resources

Summer Fun 2002 - Provides a list of summer camps for children with special education needs:

The Concord PAC also has a list of camps at http://concordspedpac.org/summercamp.htm

New England INDEX is a free information and referral service for people with disabilities

The Massachusetts Al-Anon/Alateen Family Groups are for anyone whose life has been affected by alcohol in a family member - http://www.ma-al-anon-alateen.org/

The Mass. Coalition of Battered Women Service Groups, 14 Beacon St., Suite 507, Boston, MA 02108, 617-248-0922, is an organization of 32 battered women's programs across the state.  It provides referrals for battered women and also gives general information to the public.  SafeLink is the first Massachusetts statewide domestic violence hotline and is operated by Casa Myrna Vazquez, Inc. in Boston. The SafeLink toll-free number is 1-877-785-2020. SafeLink is answered by trained advocates 24 hours a day in English, Spanish and TTY (1-877-521-2601). It also has the capacity to provide multilingual translation in more than 140 languages.  For more information on Massachusetts programs and shelters, see http://www.janedoe.org/safety.htm

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a website with useful information and links to nationwide resources at http://www.ncadv.org/

Center for Grieving Children and Teenagers, Inc.
819 Massachusetts Ave. Arlington, Massachusetts 02476 781-641-4741
The Children's Room helps children, teenagers, and their families by providing the support they need while grieving the death of a loved one. http://www.childrensroom.org/

Suicidal?  The Samaritans of Boston has a hotline open 24 hours a day.  Call 617-247-0220  In addition, they have a special hotline for teens - "talk to someone your own age, between the hours of 2 and 11pm daily - 1-800-252-TEEN. Outside of these hours, a caring adult is available."

National Suicide Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE

Parents Helping Parents offers free, ongoing, nonjudgmental support groups throughout Massachusetts for parents who are facing challenges in their relationships with their children. The reasons vary, but the need for support is the same. Groups are confidential, and facilitated by trained volunteers.
Call 1-800-882-1250 (M-F, 9-5) to learn more, find a group near you, or to
speak with a phone counselor.

Volunteer opportunities:  Boston Cares publishes a monthly calendar of volunteer opportunities in the Boston area.  http://www.bostoncares.org.  Volunteer Match is a web-based search engine that lists organizations looking for volunteers.  http://www.volunteermatch.org.  The United Way of Massachusetts Bay has a database of volunteer opportunities at http://www.uwmb.org/volunteersolutions.htm.  Serve New England allows families who volunteer at least two hours/month of community service (to any organization) to purchase discounted food packages from their food co-op - http://www.servenewengland.org.  And, for information on how kids can help, go to http://pbskids.org/zoom/action/

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Last updated Friday October 06, 2006

"Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction."
       ~ Anne Sullivan (Helen Keller's Teacher)

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